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Family

Today my little (19) sister starts University.  I am feeling a mixture of trepidation for her, and reminiscing about my own first day of moving into my Uni room and starting a whole new chapter of my life.  I also worry that she will disappear off into the world and realise the very real possibility she could find a life far away, across oceans even, and I wonder how I would cope without her.

Me and Iz
As we both get older we seem to look more alike

Like many people, I have had ups and downs with family – those grumpy teenage years, moving away from home to go to University and the excitement and freedom it gave me, missing my parents and siblings, then starting my own life in my own home.

Fred

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Allotment barbeque

Yesterday was our first wedding anniversary, and having spent the previous 24 hours tucked away in bliss at the Inn at Whitewell, and with the gorgeous warm weather, we decided last minute to have dinner at the allotment.

Allotment dinner of new potatoes

We boiled up some new potatoes, got a barbeque going to cook the sausages and burgers, and Mr Rigg watered the vegetables.

Watering the allotment

It reminded me of how much I enjoy cooking outside with the challenge of limited gadgets and gismos to help you prepare your meal.  It reminded me of sunny evenings cooking market ingredients in the Loire Valley.

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I mentioned in my previous post that we’d made a birthday cake for my parents, who both celebrate their birthday’s during January.  This is it.  I am pretty proud of this cake, I usually seem to have all kinds of disasters when it comes to cake making or they are disappointing.  Not this one however.

After these first few weeks back at work after the Christmas break, Mr Rigg and I, like most of the population I imagine, are exhausted.  We didn’t want to make a complicated birthday cake, so opted for this simple chocolate cake recipe.  My dad had requested a chocolate cake with fresh cream, so that’s what they got.

We also made the chocolate butter icing from the chocolate cake recipe, but just half of it.  In the centre we put freshly whipped cream, and a good layer of it too!  On the top we spread the chocolate butter icing, which was actually a brilliant recipe as it was dark and chocolately, rather than overly sweet or buttery.

I had this vision in my head of topping the cake with crushed Crunchie bar and crumbled chocolate Flakes.  We also picked up a big bag of Maltesers as I suddenly imagined them around the edge like a border.  Anyway, I am pleased to say the cake looked exactly how I imagined it, and my parents we delighted.

My only regret?  Sending them home with the majority of it.

I was inspired this morning by one of my favourite food blogs Country Woodsmoke to share a snippet of our Christmas feasting – this was our Christmas meal yesterday snapped briefly before it all disappeared.

We had a roasted turkey thigh (perfect for two, and all delicious dark juicy meat), roasted carrots, parsnips and shallots, goose fat potatoes, and finely sliced sprouts tossed with crispy bacon.  I also had a good dollop of homemade bread sauce.

This was by far the tastiest and most enjoyable Christmas dinner we’ve ever made.  Happy Christmas everyone!

I can’t quite believe that my ‘little’ sister – Izzy – turned eighteen today.  Mr Rigg and I spent the weekend in Gloucestershire with my family celebrating her birthday.  My mom and I attempted to take her out on Saturday morning to her favourite local cafe for hot chocolate and brownies, but it was closed so I improvised…

Homemade hot chocolate – made by grating a bar of Cadbury’s into hot milk and topping with whipped cream (double cream whipped up) and mini marshmallows.  And a slice of Rocky Road from a local deli, customised with mini marshmallows – I used a dab of cream to get them to stay in place.

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I am so happy to be back in my little blog home – it has been far too long and I have missed sharing my food adventures.

Since getting engaged back in September 2009, we have been steadily planning and preparing for our wedding.  As the date drew nearer – 21st May 2011 – I have just had little time to do much else (whilst juggling it along with my job and my website).

Here’s a picture of some of the cakes our family and friends made for our wedding – the big white one in the middle so beautiful decorated was made by my Granny!

To save me rambling on for too long, I’m going to do some bullets of what’s been going on in our lives for the past few months I’ve been missing from here, and then aim to follow with a nice post and recipe for a fab barbecue we had over the weekend:

  • Most importantly – we got married!  On 21st May 2011, I married Mr Rigg in my home village in Gloucestershire – we had a beautiful, rustic country wedding, with a party in my parent’s garden, lots of local cider and perry, AMAZING food (lots of it local) and just an all round fab day.  If you’re at all interested, photos and details will follow on my website.
  • We honeymooned in an incredible Canopy & Star’s hideaway for a week and took Buddy with us (more details and hopefully a couple of foodie posts on this to follow).
  • Sadly, Mr Rigg’s lovely Granny who was always so interested in what we were doing passed away.
  • After spending an exorbitant amount of time and effort getting our allotment covered in manure and getting rid of all the weeds over the winter…we have neglected it and it is now overrun with weeds – we are totally and utterly the worst looking allotment – gutted.
  • Although we haven’t got a lot growing (and the radishes all matured as we headed south for our wedding), we have got a couple of healthy pea plants, some small beetroot seedlings, potatoes growing (only just!) and quite a few courgette, squash and pumpkin plants.

I am just so happy to ‘be back’ and can’t wait to get growing and cooking some decent food – and to share it all!  I’ll leave you with a picture of my overgrown garden…

Perhaps an unconventional Christmas meal, but with only two of us to feed a turkey or goose would be too much, and with some exquisite stewing venison in the freezer from Dunham Massey it seemed only natural to have venison stew.

We bought our venison from Little Heath Farm a few weeks ago when they received a delivery from the National Trust property just down the road.  It is nice to know that the main ingredient in our Christmas meal came from within 5 miles and most likely had a lovely life roaming the parkland at Dunham Massey.

With a large part of my University days spent studying Native Americans both in the UK and Canada, it seemed only apt to follow the recipe for venison stew from Jamie’s America book.  Based on a Navajo stew, this recipe is incredibly delicious and is the second time we’ve made it.

My only addition was to make some parsley and suet dumpling, which I popped into the stew towards the end of cooking.  There is something very moreish about dumplings – I think I could eat a plateful drenched in a couple of spoonfuls of stew liqueur.

Mash potato was made with our allotment grown potatoes, which must be said have been a bit disastrous.  Whether it’s the variety, how we’ve grown them, or how we cook them, but the potatoes just disintegrate into soupy glue if not watched carefully. 

I have learnt that the trick with them is to watch them carefully in the water, looking for the moment when the outside starts to break down, but leaving them long enough to make sure they are almost cooked through. 

This time I put it through my wonderful French mouli that I picked up at the carboot – it was fantastic!  With the help of a little cream (maybe a lot…) and butter, and some seasoning, the mash turned out all right.

What did you eat for Christmas dinner?

After a breakfast of croissants, stocking opening and snacking on multiple treats, we don’t normally need much more for Christmas day lunch than a big plate of smoked salmon to share.

Father Christmas (thanks Mr Rigg’s mommy) sent us a gorgeous side of smoked salmon, and what couple be easier than thinly sliced seeded rye bread, thinly smeared with salty butter and spritzed with lemon juice.

Sometimes I like to grate a little lemon zest over the top, but this time I took some inspiration from my new Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals book and sprinkled over some crisp green cress. 

That little bit of greenery helped lift my feelings after so much rich and sugary food.

All helped down with a nice glass of special fizz, bought all the way back from a holiday in the Loire Valley.

13/01/11 – somehow this post was published as January 2010…rather than January 2011 – I just found it in the wrong place!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Mr Rigg, Buddy and I spent this morning down on the allotment attempting to work off the copious amounts of rich food we have eaten over Christmas.

Though the jobs involved shifting poo and digging out a small oak tree, and at one point the rain came driving down, we had a good morning.

The large mound of manure has now gone and the allotment looks very neat…if very brown and slightly smelly.  We relocated four rhubarb crowns from the middle of the allotment to the bottom, to sit happily with the other rhubarb plants.

I cleared quite a number of ratty looking raspberry canes from the end behind the ‘shed’ (should be called a shack really), and together we dug out a small oak tree (one more to go).  I know it sounds terrible to be digging out an oak tree, but the allotment officer advised we should before they get too big.

Before we left we lit up the Kelly Kettle – its first use, despite being Mr Rigg’s birthday present back in May. 

With the bottom part filled with newspaper and tiny fir cones, it soon got the water boiling and we enjoyed a cup of herbal tea in our new enamel ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ mugs.  Perfect for allotment picnics!

Our Christmas day morning was spent munching on some of the best bought buttery croissants (from Waitrose) topped with generous spoonfuls of our homemade strawberry jam.  And if you’re me, an extra helping of butter.

Then we helped Buddy open his stocking – our first Christmas with him – and he was so funny.  He was so interested as Mr Rigg began to open the bag of goodies…

perhaps not so keen on the silly Father Christmas hat and scarf chosen by me…

…but he does love his new friend Mr Pheasant…

…especially when you squeeze him and he honks …

Ah, the joys of Christmas with animals!

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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All pictures are my own unless stated. I would kindly ask that you don't use them elsewhere unless you ask permission first. Many thanks x

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